Citizen Media Watch

juli 20th, 2007

Gillmor: Experiment more!

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Dan Gillmor has put together a ten point report of the state of citizen media today.
While both a general audience and traditional media now pays attention to citizen media, there have been backlashes and we are still struggling with the business models and trust issues, Gillmor writes. Many start-ups have failed, yet there are a few examples of successful sites. Gillmor mentions Scoop and NowPublic as good examples. And he’s optimistic about the future of journalism, encouraging people to experiment more.

not only don’t you need permission, but you don’t need much money, either

In finding new ways for citizen media to develop, Gillmor has a philosophy. This is his advice:

* Openness: Use open technologies, and be open with others about what you are doing. Now, a truly spectacular idea may be such a hot business project that one should work in stealth mode, but most ideas will find more traction with the help of others who care about what you’re doing.
* Use tools that already exist: Reinventing wheels is rarely a productive use of time in the cheap-experiments arena. Chances are that many if not all of the tools you need are already available.
* Collaboration: Work with anyone and everyone.
* Take risks: This is by far the most important. Silicon Valley, where I’ve lived for more than a decade, has taught me a crucial truth, that a culture of risk-taking is a precondition for wider success. The low cost of trying, and correspondingly low cost of failure, is removing virtually all reasons for not taking chances.

The last point is about trust, and is well worth reading in its entirety.

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juli 20th, 2007

Who can do citizen journalism?

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Magnus Ljungkvist. Photo: Lotta HolmströmAfter Magnus Ljungkvist received Nyhetspriset, a Swedish citizen journalism award presented by Politikerbloggen, criticism has been heard. He received the award for revealing that then minister Borelius had a high income when she claimed she could not afford to pay employment taxes for hiring a nanny. Borelius resigned shortly after this.

The two main critics, Fredrik R Krohnman and Jonathan Leman, claim that it’s not correct to call Ljungkvist’s scoop citizen journalism since Ljungkvist’s employed by a political party (the social democrats, where he works as press speaksperson).
The blog is however not an official social democrat blog, but his private publishing space.

The critique and the discussion that’s followed is interesting because it sheds light on an important question: Who can call himself/herself a citizen journalist? In Krohnman’s and Leman’s argumentation I see the same views as some of the more conservative SJF (Swedish journalists’ union) members gave voice to at a debate I took part of in Stockholm in May. The idea that journalism is defined by who does it. And now Krohnman/Leman uses the same argumentation for citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism is most often not objective. What is important though is transparency, to clearly state what allegiances you have.
This is the one bit of critisism that I can partly agree with. It is not obvious from Ljungkvist’s blog that he works for the social democrats.

But: Doing so does not exclude him from performing acts of citizen journalism. For me, that is exactly how you can define it: If you perform an act of journalism that is journalism. But you also need to be very open about anything that could have influenced your angles when you report a story.

I think Ljungkvist’s scoop is qualified to be called an act of citizen journalism. Even though it is not obvious for a new reader of his blog Magnus Tankar who he is, this was not unknown for returning visitors or indeed for most media. Knowing this does not change the value of what he revealed about Borelius, and his doing this before any traditional media company.

I do agree with Krohnman/Leman that traditional media should have done a better job presenting who Ljungkvist is though. I also believe a critical approach to your sources is vital for anyone doing journalism.

Disclaimer: I was a jury member for the Nyhetspriset award

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juli 2007
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